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Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
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|Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-10-002 Date: Jan/Feb 2010|
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-10-002
Issue No: Vol. 73 No. 4
Date: Jan/Feb 2010
Quality Assurance as a National Performance Measure
Quality assurance practices are one of the most effective means of controlling and improving construction quality, which is critical to building and maintaining safe, long-lasting highway infrastructure. In 2006, as part of its National Review Program and strategic approach to improving stewardship and oversight of the Federal-aid program, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) published Quality Assurance in Materials and Construction, which looks at how to reduce risk in quality assurance programs. The report recommends improvements that would enable FHWA Division Offices to evaluate, approve, and monitor State quality assurance programs with a high degree of confidence. It also identifies successful practices that will add value to these programs at a national level.
Among the many recommendations stemming from this review was to establish training and workshops that enhance the technical capability of transportation professionals responsible for conducting quality assurance reviews. The National Highway Institute (NHI) currently offers three courses on quality assurance, and more are in the planning stages.
NHI recognizes that transportation professionals from numerous disciplines have responsibility for various aspects of quality assurance. Therefore, each course targets a different audience-from construction personnel to specification developers- and is designed specifically to meet the needs of that audience.
Materials Control and Acceptance-Quality Assurance (FHWA-NHI-134042). This course provides participants with an understanding of the basic elements of a statistically based quality assurance program, beginning with an introduction to quality management and quality assurance. Through lectures, discussions, and workshops, participants learn techniques for collecting, organizing, analyzing, and interpreting data. The course targets personnel who develop specifications.
Transportation Construction Quality Assurance (FHWA-NHI-134064). NHI developed this course to ensure that agency, contractor, and consultant personnel responsible for interpreting and applying quality assurance specifications in transportation construction are properly qualified. This is an intermediate-level course for personnel who ensure that specifications are met.
SpecRisk Quality Assurance Specification Development and Validation Course-Web-Based (FHWA-NHI-134070).This course introduces statistical analysis and how to develop statistically valid quality assurance specifications. The course instructs participants on using SpecRisk, a tool used to develop specifications. The audience for this course includes personnel involved in specification development.
Quality Assurance Specification Development and Validation (FHWA-NHI-134059). This training will help State quality assurance staff develop sound, statistically based quality assurance specifications; implement, monitor, and validate the specifications; and update or revise them. The target audience includes personnel involved in specification development.
Highway Materials Engineering Academy-Materials Control and Acceptance-Quality Assurance (FHWA-NHI131023B). This 6-week Materials Academy consists of seven modules that cover many aspects of materials engineering. One module is a week-long session on materials control and acceptance. The target audience is materials engineers.
"The idea for this suite of quality assurance training courses is that it will help to standardize quality assurance across the Nation," says Mike Rafalowski, a highway materials engineer at FHWA. NHI and the FHWA Office of Infrastructure have an additional course under development that will help participants write better quality assurance specifications.
For full course descriptions, visit the NHI Web site at www.nhi.fhwa.dot.gov.
A technician performs a slump test to gather quality assurance data on construction materials to measure compliance.
Stacy Stottmeister is a contractor for NHI.